O'Handley v. Weber

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Constitutional Law
  • Date Filed: 03-10-2023
  • Case #: No. 22-15071
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Watford, C.J. for the Court; Graber, C.J.; and Wallach, C.J.
  • Full Text Opinion

In order to support a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim against a private party, a plaintiff must show that the private party exercised a right or privilege created by the state or is sufficiently entwined with or coerced by government power. Lugar v. Edmondson Oil Co., 457 U.S. 922 (1982).

Plaintiff sued California’s Secretary of State Shirley Weber and Twitter pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 1985, alleging that the parties acted in concert to censor speech. The district court dismissed the case for failure to state a claim and Plaintiff appealed.

Plaintiff claimed the State flagged messages for removal from Twitter’s platform and Twitter almost invariably complied and limited other users’ ability to interact with Plaintiff’s account. Plaintiff argued that Twitter was a state actor as articulated in Lugar v. Edmondson Oil Co., 457 U.S. 922 (1982) because Twitter and the state formed a nexus sufficient for state action or, alternatively, they engaged in conspiracy or willful joint action sufficient to pass the Lugar test.

The Court applied the two-step test articulated in Lugar and determined Twitter was not a state actor because 1) the violation was not caused by an “exercise of some right or privilege created by the state” since Twitter was acting in accord with its own written policies and 2) Twitter could not fairly be called a state actor under either the entwinement or coercive government power nexus tests or the joint action test.


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